It is important for people to respect the law concerning intellectual property, particularly if you are librarians or information managers! There is international agreement about copyright and related laws, and the World Intellectual Property Organization http://www.wipo.int/portal/index.html.en is the organisation that aims to develop an international system that is fair to both creators and users of intellectual property.
They define intellectual property as:
"creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce." (WIPO, 2012) They identify two types of intellectual property: Industial property (e.g. patents, trademarks) and copyright (e.g. literary and artistic works, which includes digital works). This also includes the rights that performers have in their performances (dance, theatre etc.)
Some principles are agreed internationally, and there is harmonisation, for example, within countries of the European Union (although even then there are some details of difference between EU countries). Sheffield University Library has a copyright guide http://www.shef.ac.uk/library/services/copyintro
The base line is that is generally illegal to copy things unless
- EITHER it specifically allowed by law (e.g. acknowledged quotations of up to a certain length are allowed for academic purposes or in reviews: "acknowledged" means there are quote marks and the source is clearly stated)
- OR the rights owner (author/creator) has said that it can be used. Creative Commons licenses http://creativecommons.org/ have made it much easier for an author of a digital work (article, video, photograph etc.) to say how their work can be used. There are a series of licences that you can use, ranging from "anyone can do anything with my work" to (for example) saying that people can use them privately, but must not publish them publically or use them commercially. This is one of the presentations on the CC site on Sharing Creative Works: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Sharing_Creative_Works
"Derivative" works are works that change the original in some way (e.g. if you cropped a picture, or photoshopped it). Some people do not want their work altered, and since it is their intellectual property, they have the right to say you mustn't.
This is a useful page which has annotated links to sources of legal free images: http://www.pandia.com/sew/4149-10-ways-to-find-free-images.html. If you can't find what you want there, then Phil Bradley has a list of search engines that search images and video: http://www.philb.com/mediaengines.htm (but some of them might consist mainly or entirely of images that you cannot legally reuse).
When you search Flickr you can specify you want to be able leagally to reuse the image. Scroll down to the bottom of this advanced search page http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/?
and you will see that you can "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content". They explain it clearly here: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/
In the advanced search option on Google Images you can specify the usage rights, e.g. only search for images that can be re-used.
Your task is to make sure that you are not copying text, videos or images illegally, on your blog and on your poster! (or indeed anywhere else)
- World Intellectual Property Organization. (2012) What is intellectual property? Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/
- Creative Commons logo copied with permission; see http://creativecommons.org/about/downloads